The water crisis in the Paso Robles area has escalated over the past 15 years, much of it coinciding with a growing wine grape industry and its desire for water.

Larson said this and urban growth has resulted in water tables dropping more than 70 feet in some areas since 1997. Some wells are producing water at only 15 percent of their design capacity. Sixty-seven percent of the groundwater is used by agriculture and the rest by commercial and urban users.

The city of Paso Robles conducted a study with recommendations on how to reverse the overdraft situation.

Cities around Paso Robles are joining together to promote conservation to hopefully stabilize the water table while working to develop new water supplies. The latter will include a new $50 million sewer treatment plant.

The area has already taken 17,500 acre feet of entitled state water from Lake Nacimiento used to reduce pumping by cities around Paso Robles. There are 20,000 acre feet remaining.

Along with upgrading the city’s sewage treatment facilities, Larson said the city is looking at creating recharge basins.

Outreach and education efforts are underway to improve water use efficiency. Much of this is coming from a best management practices committee made up of all stakeholders meeting once a month.

It is obvious there are no easy solutions for the Central Coast agricultural and urban water crisis, especially since people continue to want to live and work on the coast.

As Larson pointed out, Monterey has been gnawing away at its water crisis since 1946, and the Santa Maria area has been entangled in legal issues for almost two decades.